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DIY: Make Your Own AV Cables

As a music producer and all-around computer dude, I spent a ton of money on cables that usually fall apart much sooner than they should. Being able to make AV cables is an important skill that will save you a ton of money over time. After working at Guitar Center and seeing the profit margin of Monster Cables, I decided to try it out myself. Video and audio cables are very easy to construct with the proper materials and basic soldering skills. Some of the advantages that come from making custom AV cables is the ability to make application-specific precise lengths and the choice of materials that are designed to help maximize signal transfer. Once these cables are finished, a system can have an optimized signal at a much lower cost than utilizing store-bought AV cabling.

Make your own A/V cables !

Instructions 

Preparatory Phase

Step One: Stripping the Cable

Always start by putting the cable in your left hand and the stripper cutter in the right. It is very important to remember that every kind of stripper is different. A person should point the stripper cutter’s outside away from their cable in order to leave about 1/4 inch of extra cable hanging off the end. They should only remove the extra wire later.

They should remove the insulation in order to expose the braided shielding and center pin. After that, they can slide the collar into the cable. They should not forget this procedure or they might have to start from the beginning once again.

Step Two: Trimming the Wire

After removing the insulation, they should start trimming the center wire to length. This will vary from one stripper to the next, but the usual correct length is about 19 mm from the tip of the conductor’s center to the outside insulation. This is where having the right stripper is very handy. However, a person can still make an excellent cable if they are using a less-than-ideal stripper.

Step Three: Crimping the Cable

Once the center has been trimmed to its desired length, a person should now place the center pin and crimp it very tight. It is always recommended to tug it a little bit in order to make sure that it is secure. After making sure that the center pin is straight, they should go ahead and slide the connector’s body on. They will feel a quick snap when the center pin locks securely.

After this has been achieved, they should fold the braiding back into the connector and slide the wire’s collar up into it. They should also remember to do this without flaring all the way back into the wire’s braiding. This will ensure that they are able to open it a little bit for the connector to slide in. It will make sure that they have a good connection down the road. After that, all people have to do is label the cable with either colored electrical tape or shrink tubing.

 

Making an Audio Cable

Step One

Start by removing the cable’s outer insulation with a standard box cutter or a good quality stripper. They should then cut the cable’s black wire flush of the outer insulation. It is also best to get it completely out of the way.

Step Two

After cutting the red wire to the desired length and leaving a little allowance, a person should then strip off about 18 inches of the red wire’s tip and twist it very tight. People should cover the exposed copper with solder to make it much easier to move to the center pin.

Step Three

They should then fill the tip of the wire with solder and slip the red wire into the AV cable center pin. It should be held securely until it cools down. A person should then twist the grounding cable very tight and push it into the connector’s stem through its holes. They should wrap it around to make sure that it is held securely in place.

An individual should then flip the connector over with the stem facing outside up and solder the grounding wire to it. They should trim off the extra ground wire and crimp the collar down on the insulation’s outer part with a pair of pliers. The connector’s body should be screwed on to finish the cable.

Waves In The Reflection, Chapter Two: Updated Font

 

Ancient Lasers Waves In The Reflection Two: Updated Font

 

Ancient Lasers is the collected effort of Daniel Finfer and Daniel Anderson. 

We also got to work with one of the internet’s most transcendent artists – Petra Cortright.

Ancient Lasers Cover

Petra Cortright is either very ahead of her time, or very behind. Or both.  Her art pieces usually use some combination of Netscape-era GIF’s, glittery-cheesy-glitched-out-graphics and Myspace=ishASCII fonts.  Her YouTube channel is a hot mess of post-human exhibition- complete with bizarre video plugins, presets, and maybe its imovie after effects.  It’s kinda like one of those webcam girl pop-up-ads, if it was live-streaming from a bizarre, fucked-out future where America Online and the Super Nintendo are still the coolest dudes in the room:

 

As we were wrapping up the Ancient Lasers album, I started looking for images similar to her glitch-mountains, which had always fascinated me – since around 2007 – when most of the songs for this record were penned.  Like a nature photographer hiking through the uncanny valley, pieces like the one below remind me of some dicked-up digital program.. trying to remember what real life was like way back when:

Digital Mountains
Digital Mountains

Somewhere deep inside Google Image Search and FFFFound, I realized that she’s probably not dead yet and that I could just have her create a new one.  I decided to send her a picture of Mount Baker, in Bellingham, WA. Primarily because both myself, and Daniel Anderson spent the majority of our lives in the place; but also because I use to stare at this mountain from our farm growing up:

View from farm in Ferndale, Washington
View from farm in Ferndale, Washington

Underneath the gaze of this mountain, the chain of events that led me to discovering my musical ability at age 17 transpired.  That’s right, folks! I didn’t know what the hell I was going to do with my life until one summer, when I was bored and downloaded Fruity Loops from Limewire. I had always been able to play songs on the radio by ear via keyboard, and had taken orchestra in elementary school (where I played violin and a hilariously giant upright bass), but had never thought about making music.  After a few days, it kind of just clicked – pre-Music, I had wanted to be an author and wrote a lot of Sci-Fi stories – and was usually the best in my art class (no offense, Ferndale, but there wasn’t much competition).

JUST FUCKING THEN, I discovered three bands that would forever shape my future: Nine Inch Nails, The Postal Service, and Idiot Pilot.

I had just transferred to a “hippy high school”:

Actual Screenshot of My High School's Google + Review

 So my brother had given me a copy of The Downward Spiral to take on the trip.  Now, this was destined to be a pretty terrible trip. Something about all my teachers being permanently happy was cool, fine, alright im learning about nanotechnology and resource-based economies; and the combination of listening to lyrics like “God is dead, no one cares; if there is a hell, I’ll see you there” while sitting in a circle of kids burning sage and banging on guitars/djimbe’s was pretty fucking rad.

Anyways, I’m in a shitty tent, alone in a new, weird school, and godam im tired, maybe ill pull out this huge blue sony discman n listen to nin cuz mike said it’s be coool…..

How To Destroy Hippies
How To Destroy Hippies

What thaua fuaaak? Music made by machines? A concept album about a lonely human fighting against it? Battling with the inherent lack of meaning that is OUR reality? Thanks, Trent.

Yet it wasn’t until I happened to look at the album liner notes (back when they were paper) and seeing “Pretty Much Everything By Trent Reznor” all over the place that I realized that with a computer, you don’t need to have a band.

You can just be the band.

Once I got home after somehow not killing myself, I heard about The Postal Service – mainly because one of the dudes was Ben Gibbard, who was a Bellingham local.  It was a snow day at Whatcom Community College, and we were shoe-sledding down an icy hill on Indian St. because that’s what you do in Bellingham in September of 2003.  My friend knew some guy that lived nearby, so we all went to warm up. Keep in mind, this was probably 6 months before Give Up had been released nationally.

Pre-Hipster-Era
Pre-Hipster-Era

The moment I heard The Postal Service in that kid’s house, I realized that not only was electronic music becoming popular with kids that used to talk shit about me listening to Daft Punk’s Discovery in high school (because this weird video game music will never be cool); but that someone from Bellingham, Washington, had made an album that was suddenly gaining mainstream attention.  I was there, folks, and it was weird watching The Postal Service go from local heroes to being the band I turn off in the car because I’ve heard Such Great Heights 749,999 times this week on 107.7 The End.

Which brings it all back circle.

One day two kids from Bellingham named, quite eerily, Michael Harris and Daniel Anderson (My brother’s name is Michael and my middle name is Harris), won the EMP SoundOff! competition and were being played on 107.7. My sister heard Idiot Pilot – To Buy A Gun – Strange We Should Meet Here and came home yabbing about it to me, saying “its like gonna be ur fav band cuz NIN and Postal Service”.

I listened to “Strange We Should Meet Here” a few times through, and then read somewhere on Myspace that the album was made on Fruity Loops.

The Original, Offical Album Cover (If you're from Bellingham)
The Original, Offical Album Cover (If you’re from Bellingham)

*Queue the sound of something clicking at 450 bpm*

See you later, Chihuahua’s Mexican Restaurant (their actual website). 

That very month, I moved to Los Angeles to work on music (in between a few expensive and extremely inconvenient trips to Santa Clara University for some weird networking thing called “college”).

My first music thing whatever fuck you
My first music thing whatever fuck you

Idiot Pilot had just released Tail Of A Jet Black Swan. I saw a post from Daniel Anderson one day asking if anyone wanted a remix done. Coincidentally, I had just finished an album I am still proud of, Post Human Era – To Build A Fire, with my producing mentor Brian Delizza. I had taken a few guitar lessons from Daniel in Bellingham the summer before, and decided to not be a bitch and send him a few songs.  He sent me back a remix of Building The Machine:

Needless to say, I was pretty stoked; and asked him if he wanted to do, like, 13 more, start a new band, and oh yeah here’s Petra’s album cover:

By Petra Cortright
By Petra Cortright

 

Moving At The Speed Of Drone: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

There are some interesting technologies coming into the spotlight as of late, and when observed individually, they are quite impressive. But when you take a step back and see where all of this is headed, the outlook for humanity can appear breathtaking. Yet, it only take a couple mouse clicks to have that techno-optimism destroyed. A good example is the coming drone revolution.

Drones are essentially flying robots, and they have been getting alot of negative press lately, what with all the accidental killing of civilians and fears of a totalitarian police-state being able to spy on everyone and everything 24/7. Take this Dragonfly Drone someone spotted at a family barbecue:

The toothpaste is out of the tube: it is now possible for someone to see everything you do. But wait! There’s more! Someone decided to use the simple formula “Drone + Gun = Great Idea” and build an autonomous, Ipad-controlled flying machine gun that literally self-destructs if it gets shot down.

Welcome to hell, right? How does one defend themselves against something like that? A personal laser defense system? Imagine 100, or even 10,000 of those flying into your city.

However, there is some good news. Farmers have started using drones to view crops, saving money on expensive surveillance services normally conducted by plane. But imagine how much more efficient an army of farming drones would be. You could plant crops in places you can’t get to, schedule watering and maintenance, harvest food autonomously, and even have it delivered to a customer’s doorstep. Supermarkets will be a thing of the past. Also, think about construction.

Drones will allow for the construction and demolition of a building within days, if not hours. Combine this with the benefits 3D printing will provide, and it is easy to imagine an entire city migrating to follow resources.

Here’s where I’m going with all this: We are going to need to completely overhaul the economic system. What is going to happen when China begins to use robots because it is economically feasible to do so? Can our economy support ONE BILLION unemployed people? What happens to the construction workers, farmers, truck drivers, and other assorted service people who will be suddenly unemployed? We are heading towards a post-scarcity society with a scarcity-driven economy.

There is a solution, however. Economic models like the Resource Based Economy Principle dictate a world centered around a vast resource management system, a living wage, using the highest levels of technology available to eliminate corrupt profit models. God forbid any of us be judged by how good we are as human beings and what we contribute to society.

These technologies need to happen like, yesterday. Why? Because there’s a great big Brother eyeing the killswitch; who is quickly realizing he will soon be obsolete, and I don’t think he’s going quietly.

 

 

Memetic Evolution: The Post-Biological Paradigm

Who are we, where did we come from, and where are we going?

It’s a complex, three part question that we may never be able to fully answer. We do, however, get closer every day. We build things. We revise them, and build them better. We make art to express ourselves, and wage war to defend ourselves. The world today is growing radically different than the world of the ancients – and even the world of our American pioneers. If one were to look at the charts and graphs scientists have developed to demonstrate our ever increasing technological prowess, they may find themselves startled and afraid. The charts are climbing through the roof, shifting towards an exponential trend of growth. Some argue that the Darwinian mode of genetic evolution is being replaced by a new form of evolution dubbed Memetic Evolution. Memes are human habits -art, music, literature, and all other facets of our culture. And our memes, it seems, are copying themselves at an alarming rate.

The time it takes to communicate a thought from one human being to another is shrinking exponentially. The activities of writing letters and sending telegrams have been replaced by the newer, faster methods of email and text messaging. What took a matter of weeks if not months a hundred years ago now takes a matter of minutes if not seconds. If one were to extrapolate that trend of growth into the future, surely in the next hundred years it seems that we may become able to communicate instantaneously, even telepathically.

Yet, in this human frenzy of growth and exploration, we have to occasionally stop and smell the roses. How did we get here in the first place? Why were humans blessed with the gift of knowledge, and the poor chimpanzee left to poke around in the dirt?

Our ancestors first began making music and art some 40,000 years ago. Was this a result of some divine entity imparting its wisdom into our souls? Probably not. Most researchers have come to agree that such a change took place over thousands if not hundreds of thousands of years worth of genetic mutations. Was it the fact that our brains grew to be much larger than our predecessors? That was also not the case. Neanderthals had a similar sized brain as the Cro Magnon man, yet displayed very little culture. The Cro Magnon man performed many rituals when one of their loved ones died. They places thousands of beads into the grave, and spent a large amount of time preparing the ceremony. Neanderthals, on the other hand, simply chucked the dead body into a pit. It seems that they had much less regard and understanding of life in this regard. They did not exhibit any signs of art, music, or any culture for that matter compared to the Cro Magnon man.

So then, what was it that set us apart? Why did we ascend to a higher state of existence compared to our animal neighbors? Perhaps it was not the actual size of our brains, but the wiring that gave us knowledge. Hunting was probably the primary reason we invented tools and communication. We designed, built, and redesigned stone tools until they gave us effective results. Then, we used methods of communication to impart this knowledge to our descendants. Then, while hunting, we developed signals and signs to aid in the kill. Thus, we began to devise hunting plans, and tactics. We began to work together. This would have eventually become language as we know it, when our first vocalizations could be heard echoing throughout the ancient landscape. A verbal language would have greatly sped up the communication process. That would have in turn allowed for more efficient hunting and gathering practices, as more knowledge would have been conveyed in a shorter amount of time. This would have resulted in more free time, which would have allowed hobbies like bead making and art to become commonplace.

Thus, the birth of culture. Bead making could have led to a value system, where beads were traded for goods and services. As time went on, our ancestors may have found gold and silver, and traded those. Money is born. The more money an individual had, the more power was associated with that person. Now we start getting into wars to gain more power, more control over land and hunting areas. People start to make more and more art and music so that they can forget about the wars, and the pain of lost loved ones. They may have found that while they were making music or art that time seemed to slow down, and they were able to connect with some hidden force that felt eternal, and more real than reality itself. For in those fleeting moments of creativity, they were becoming eternal by creating something that would live on long after they were gone. These ancestors of ours could connect with one another in ways the physical world could not have allowed them to in the past. Unbeknownst to them, they were building the framework of what would someday become society itself – a network of thought and culture.

Fast forward to now.

Today, this network is more present than ever, and growing rapidly. Even though biologically we may be the same as we were some 50,000 years ago, our minds have expanded out into the universe, and deep into our own souls.

Memes convey seemingly infinite meaning, as the groups that weld them impart more and more ‘inside jokes’ into their digital fabric. For now, memes are mostly internet jokes that other people build upon. Memes are also merging with each other, giving birth to new memes. It only takes a quick glance at a site like https://www.reddit.com to understand how fast this evolutionary system is advancing.

One could suppose that soon, memes will eclipse entire industries, especially marketing. I am sure corporate memes, run as ads on social media sites, are not far off. We could also assume then the use of memes by entertainment celebrities and politicians, even entire ideologies.

As a race, we have become aware of our own limitations – time, space, and ourselves. And as we tirelessly work to break through these boundaries, we may not realize how similar the act of building a space shuttle is to building a stone axe. They are both tools we use to advance ourselves, and now more than ever, it feels as though we are on the verge of another mental big bang. Just as our ancestors broke through the barrier separating action from speech, we may be on the verge of breaking through the barrier that separated our bodies from our souls. For someday soon, we may truly get the chance to meet our true selves and shake our own hands. Someday soon, we may decide not to be human, or anything, at all.

Come Party with Jackson Pollock and glowing LED’s at the Tampa Museum of Art.

View from across the river - perfect for an evening picnic.
View from across the river – perfect for an evening picnic.

“To See As Artists See” Showcases America’s Modern Art Masters

The Tampa Museum of Art is pleased to present “To See As Artists See: American Art From The Phillips Collection”, which displays 107 important American paintings from The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. For this exhibition, curators selected works from the 1850s through 1960s that showcase the full breadth of its American art collection.

Dove Red Sun

Geniuses of American painting in the exhibition include Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, Childe Hassam, Rockwell Kent, Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, Grandma Moses, Jacob Lawrence, Jackson Pollock, Clyfford Still, Richard Diebenkorn, and Mark Rothko.  Each of these artists were visionaries in their own right, and deserve an entire museum unto themselves.  This is a unique chance to see a comprehensive retrospective of America’s Modern Art movement spanning 1850’s.

The modern theme of “To See As Artists See” feels appropriately situated inside Stanley Saitowitz’s new and modern design for the Tampa Museum of Art – which critics have named an “electronic jewelbox sitting on a glass pedestal.” It would make sense Tampa’s most recognizable building on the outside now features equally recognizable paintings on the inside.  But some would argue that the building alone is worth the trip, with its exotic use of 14,000 color-changing LED’s wrapping the outside walls. The building was named winner of the American Architecture Award by Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design, and it is no surprise.  One of the most striking features of the Tampa Museum of Art is that it sits on the edge of the Hillsborough River, across from many viewpoints where its design and glow can be enjoyed reflecting off the water’s surface.  One of these vantage points is Plant Park, where you might enjoy a picnic dinner on a lazy evening.

Come see for yourself, and come inside to check out “To See as Artists See: American Art From The Phillips Collection” Exhibition through April 28th.

http://www.tampamuseum.org

Making Friends We Never Talk To: The Dangerous Social Effects Of Robotics

Sherry Turkle was recently interviewed by NPR on the podcast “Do We Need Humans?” with other fellow TED speakers.  What struck me as fascinating about this podcast is that she touches on a subject all of us are aware of but rarely talk about: Technology and relationships. More importantly, the social effects of technology. How is technology making us feel connected to each other, and is this a good thing?

baby seal
Wisdom falls on deaf ears: An elderly woman talks to a robotic baby seal for comfort.

Sherry begins by explaining something she saw one day that changed everything she believed. She was watching an elderly patient at a hospital interacting with a robot. It looked like a baby harp seal, and it had big, cute eyelashes. It responded to her language, and cheered her up. It comforted her. The older woman had lost a child, which could explain her longing for something to hold again. It made her feel understood. Sherry couldn’t believe how well she was responding to this robot, and realized the possibilities of this robot’s application.

“I felt profoundly depressed.  This was a tremendous emotional turning point in my research,” says Sherry.  She is now very worried about where this is all headed, and during her TED talk “Connected, but Alone?” she described it best:

“I felt myself at the cold, dark center of a perfect storm, in which we expect more from a technology relationship than we expect from each other.  I believe it is because technology appeals to us most where we are most vulnerable.  We are lonely, but afraid of intimacy.  We are designing social networks that help us feel connected in ways we can comfortably control.  But we aren’t comfortable, and we aren’t in control. We are cheering on this emotional connection to a machine, but why are we outsourcing what defines us as people?”

When Sherry gave her TED talk the year before, however, it was like a public confessional – because the year before, she told us how amazing robots will become.

So what changed her mind?

“I have interviewed hundreds and hundreds of people about their plugged in lives.  These little devices are so psychologically powerful, they not only change what we do, they change what we are.  Some of the things we do with our devices are things we would have found odd only a few years ago.  People text during company board room meetings.  People have talked about the important skill of eye contact while you are texting.  We even text at funerals.  We remove ourselves from our grief and our revery, and go into our phones. Why does this matter? Because I think we are setting ourselves up for trouble, not only in how we relate to each other, but how we relate with ourselves.  People want to be  everywhere at the same time.  The thing that matters most to people is control of where they put their attention.”

couples texting in person
So close, yet so far away.

But what if someone is so lonely, they must resort to a device to help them feel better?  Certainly there are people who would otherwise be completely isolated from the outside world without technology.  Sherry understands that there are inherent benefits to these technologies, but in the future, why would we want to do that to ourselves?  Why would we intentionally construct false relationships?

When we construct robots, we are changing ourselves.  We must realize the needs we are serving and become aware of what these needs are.  Sherry wants to hear a more articulated conversation about these human needs.  “I always hear TED talks that talk about this and always end with people saying ‘we will become more human’ if we let these robots advance.  I’m not so sure.  Why do we want that old woman talking to a robot?  She deserves to have people around, and we need to hear the stories of her life to learn from her.”

“Technology is making the bid to redefine human connection.  How we care for each other and ourselves.  How we determine our values and our direction.  We have every opportunity ahead of us, and we have everything we need to start – each other.  We have the greatest chance of success if we recognize our vulnerability; that we listen when technology says it will take something complicated and make it simpler.  Our fantasies are costing us, and we need to find ways that technology can lead us back to our own lives and bodies.  Lets talk about how we can use digital technology, the technology of our dreams, to make this life a life we can love.”

We must find a balance between our technologic and the personal worlds as the lines increasingly blur. Social media profiles still leave much to the imagination, yet can provide more instantaneous information about a person than an average 5 minutes of small talk. Google Glass — which allows one to share videos, text, make calls and browse the web through the user’s eye — is an emerging technology that may prove beneficial in establishing the physical and internet-based demarcations … by completely eliminating those boundaries and turning an individual into a breathing, living embodiment of the internet. You could say we are becoming the internet. Or the internet is becoming us. Whichever you choose, there is a new age of interaction upon us, and we most certainly will have our share of growing pains. Perhaps some new device like Google Glass will help people learn to truly see through each other’s eyes…But most likely, you’ll just use it to watch the Lakers game during your next dinner date.

Do you think there are more pros or cons to social media? SHARE BELOW

 

About Sherry Turkle

Sherry Turkle studies how technology is shaping our modern relationships with others, with ourselves, with it. Described as the “Margaret Mead of digital culture,” Turkle is currently focusing on the world of social media and sociable robots. In her most recent book, Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other, Turkle argues that the social media we encounter on a daily basis are confronting us with a moment of temptation.

Drawn by the illusion of companionship without the demands of intimacy, we confuse postings and online sharing with authentic communication. We are drawn to sacrifice conversation for mere connection. But Turkle suggests that digital technology is still in its infancy and there is ample time for us to reshape how we build it and use it. She is a professor in the Program in Science, Technology and Society at MIT and the founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self.

Listen to the new M83 track, “StarWaves”, From The Oblivion Soundtrack

M83 Oblivion

From Indiewire – “I’m always trying to push myself and I try to do it with my studio albums, and now this is a new adventure, so I’m going to push myself even harder, and try to surprise people and move people with my music,” M83 mastermind Anthony Gonzalez told us last year when we reported he was going to score Joseph Kosinski‘s “Oblivion.” “My vision is really to have a combination of very electronic moments, very M83, and sometimes merge into something more soundtrack-y.” And it sounds like he’s more than succeeded.

The first track from upcoming soundtrack has arrived and yes, it sounds like M83 and yes, that means it sounds awesome. The sci-fi flick starring Tom Cruise is already shaping up to be something pretty ambitious and it certainly has the music to match, and for M83’s first blockbuster scoring outing, he’s been assisted by “TRON: Uprising” and “The Raid” composer Joseph Trapanese. M83 has also cut a new song featuring Norwegian singer Susanne Sundfør that will appear on the soundtrack when it’s released on April 9th.

As for the movie, after a move to April 12th on IMAX, it will now hit screens in all formats as originally planned on April 19th. Turn it up — way up — and listen below. [Rolling Stone/Deadline] 

Three Important Marketing Tips For Beginner Musicians

Passion Pit – A Modern Music Marketing Success Story

Passion Pit is a perfect example of how giving away self-produced and released music can lead to big things.  Lead Vocalist Michael Angelakos took songs he wrote for his girlfriend, burned them to CD, started passing them out around campus and next thing you know?  Sold out tours, major labels, and glowing Pitchfork reviews.  But what can you do as a beginning musician to follow in their footsteps?

  • Step 1: Have good music

It may sound ridiculously obvious, but this is sometimes a major factor musicians overlook in the marketing process.  Why spend money on a tour van or radio promotion if no one will even show your music to their Facebook friends first?  You could literally spend $50,000 on marketing and have it go to waste if your music isn’t up to the top quality standards in terms of production, songwriting and mixing/mastering.

If you are just starting out, and don’t have the ability to hire a producer or engineer at a professional studio, there are plenty of programs that will allow you to, after alot of trial and error, get close to professional quality sound.  I use Logic Pro, some Pro Tools, and Ableton Live for production.  A full on tutorial of how to produce music with these programs is another article entirely.

If I have never heard of your band before, I am probably not going to buy your music.  Especially if there isn’t even a free iTunes preview available.  This is because there are plenty of bands that I already like giving away music for free, and in the age of Mediafire and Hype Machine, I can download any album I want in about 4 seconds.  So if a potential fan shows up to your website, has to turn off your FLASH AUTOPLAY WEBSITE (caps because seriously everyone hates these sites), and then gets propositioned to enter their credit card information, odds are they aren’t going down to the car to get their wallet.  And that is a catastrophic failure on your part.  Give your music away for free, at least initially.  Get people excited and interested in your sound and what you are doing.  Think about the old adage “Fake it till you make it”, and how that relates to music – you will make significantly more money down the road using long-tail economics – so stop thinking linearly and start thinking exponentially. Consider this:

Chris Anderson wrote a very profound book called The Long Tail: Why The Future Of Business Is Selling Less Of More that explains how the internet changed the way we do business on a global scale.  A good example is what happened to SEARS, the department store.  It all started back before most farmers could afford an automobile, let alone the fuel to drive into town every day.  Sears had the novel idea of passing out catalogs to each farmhouse, that not only sold things, but sold EVERYTHING.  Wristwatches, thread, lightbulbs, kerosene lanterns, you name it, you could order it right out of the catalog.  This is because Sears invested in the initial infrastructure of large warehouses and trucks to ship things from all over the world to Good Lord, Iowa.  This was great initially, and gave the masses things from far away lands they only dreamed about.

Yet as time wore on, the farmers started showing up to Church with the same wristwatch from the same catalog.  Consumers demanded product differentiation.  They now wanted specialized, niche markets. Competitors and new nation-spanning highways gave people the freedom of choice and customization, which in turn led to Sears’ downfall, and subsequently it is now  market share leader in washing machines.  So, what does this have to do with music?

Back when there were only a few channels for wristwatch distribution, the same held true for music.  There were only a few channels on the local radio, and only a certain number of CD’s could fit on the shelves in the record store.  The major labels owned the only distribution infrastructure that could physically get your music to the major metropolitan areas, and if you didn’t fit their style or genre, you were condemned to play coffee shops and Bar Mitzvahs for the rest of your career.

Along comes the Internet.  Whoa, wasn’t there a record store here last week? The new paradigm of music distribution allows for infinitely reducible niche markets in music.  Nowadays, the New Age Polka enthusiast can not only find their favorite artist’s music, but automatically and instantaneously receive recommendations of other New Age Polka artists they may like as well.  As an old friend used to say, “there’s a seat for every ass in the house”.  If you make good music, you will find fans, regardless of how obscure it may be.

Just don’t expect giving it away for free to work as well as it did for Radiohead.

 

  • Get 1,000 true fans

I went to a music conference in 2011 that was basically a big waste of time, but I did come away with one new idea of what being a musician will be like in the coming years.  Consider this article, written in 2000, about the then current state of the music industry.

http://partners.nytimes.com/library/financial/sunday/062500biz-berenson.html.

In that year, Eminem, Britney Spears, and N Sync all helped paint a picture of a music industry that was still expanding – a record-breaking 312 million CD’s were sold – that’s an 8 % increase.  The warning signs were there – as most of the article debates whether or not Napster will have a long-term effect on major labels.   But statements like “People do like CD’s. They continue to buy about 900 million CD’s every year in this country. I don’t think people are going to change their behavior dramatically,” offer a glimpse into the prevalent shortsightedness that was going around at the time.

LOL I crashed the music industry sry guys

What happened next was a result of that year.  Based on 2000’s growth projections, the industry kept expanding while the actual sales started to dip.  Labels started losing alot of money fast, and could no longer give out big advances.  Thus, the days of the mega-stars like Britney Spears are now over.

Yet there is still a booming music industry out there, with billions of dollars in annual global revenue.  So how will it be distributed in the coming years? We will start to see the expansion of the musical middle class.  No, you probably won’t make $10 Million dollars per album like they did in the year 2000, but your chances of making an honorable $40,000 per year are very high if you can attract at least 1,000 fans that will spend $40 on your brand per year.  Think about it – that’s basically a T Shirt, a ticket sale, and a ringtone. The best way to attract fans is to be real with them, and to be honest.  The idea of being a reclusive, mysterious musician that hides in the studio for weeks doesn’t really mesh well with the age of blogging and Youtube.  Talk to people online.  Share stories and information.  Comment on people’s pictures.  Post videos of your new song idea and ask for input.  Over 50% of the entire internet’s traffic runs through YouTube.  That is a HUGE resource.

Your new best friend in music marketing.

Make customized merch that only your most loyal fans can access, and even think about VIP concerts and events.  It may sound strange, but sometimes it feels like the internet has only increased the distance between people in real life – be someone people can always rely on as a digital friend, and I promise, they will always support your musical endeavors.